By Inam Ul Haque
April 2, 2020
I just finished reading a history of Islam covering the Rashidun (Righteous) Caliphs, Umayyad Mulokiyyat (Kingdom, 661–750AD) and Abbasid (750-1258AD) dynasties written by the illustrious Allama Jalaluddin al Suyuti (1445-1505). It covers the first six centuries of Islam. The later part of this history is sadly full of contradictions, human failings, palace intrigues, citizenry revolts, inconclusive and bizarre religious debates and bad governance. Under the Abbasids, Baghdad — the seat of the government — had to deal with super floods, repeated famines, diseases and other natural disasters, forcing even the well-off to dig out the dead and kill kids to eat. Scarcity and profiteering were the hallmarks of such crises. So were inexplicable events like very strong winds, blood rains, stone hails and birds warning humans to mend their ways. Human-engineered destruction spiked with the Mongol invasion of Baghdad (c.1258). And these are no fables.
There were repeated epidemics in Europe leading to the break-up of the royal authority over a hungry humanity, which could hardly eat a full meal through the Middle Ages. The Black Death, caused by plague, killed around 25 million people in Europe between 1347 and 1351. Later the influenza pandemic or “Spanish flu” of 1918–19 claimed an estimated 20–40 million lives. There were six cholera pandemics sweeping the world in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The seventh pandemic, dated mid-20th century, continues to this day. So humans have seen it all. But the Covid-19 is a first pandemic affecting the world in entirety. Our interconnected global village enabled it to spread with the speed and persistence unknown before. And this has changed our world for good; that discussion is for a later time.
However, perhaps for the first time, the geopolitics of a pandemic were are at play, as was partially covered in my Op-Ed, “China, Coronavirus and the World” published on February 20, 2020. It goes like this… when Wuhan erupted, the developed West — with the US in the lead — aimed at China sensing an opportunity to derail China’s development and rise. But the Chinese response which was initially criticised and is now being emulated, stemmed the tide effectively and the virus crossed into Europe, creating havoc in Italy and now Spain. With increasing infections in the US by the “Chinese virus” and the US media’s war against all things Trump; the tables started turning. The US media saw it as an opportunity to undermine Trump through a scary coverage of the pandemic, consequent to its inept handling. This alarmism caused panic buying, rush at ATMs, gun stores and lockdowns. Had the virus originated in Europe or the US, perhaps the rich and famous would have acted otherwise. As stated repeatedly by health officials, the coronavirus is statistically not as dangerous as other threats to our lives. The geopolitics helped make it a monster in a superpower competition which was based on ill-intent to begin with. Events are orchestrated in unfathomable ways by nature, as the West calls it, and by Allah the Almighty as we know it. The full consequences are yet to unfold.
A spiritual re-orientation is a natural by-product of human experience during all such catastrophes. He warns us in the books of all three great religions against transgressions, zulm (cruelty in its many forms), and lack of faith and shirk (making other deities/personalities partners in His kingdom). There is no sharing of power with Him as He is the only Omnipotent, Omnipresent and the All-powerful. And He lays down boundaries of human behaviour through His revelations in very clear and unambiguous terms. He codifies some examples from human history in holy books for humanity to take lesson. And mentions His likes and dislikes in core human relations, behaviour and interactions, being the bedrock of His guidance to humanity.
His red lines are clear. One such red line is homosexuality. It is time, we raise our voice against the Western-led proliferation and encouragement of this sinful depravity, promoted in a no holds-barred manner. Men getting married to men and women tying the knot with other women in a new normal under the thinly veiled guise of politically correct “alternative lifestyle” is outright unnatural, immoral, disgraceful and condemnable. Whereas, the Mosque is vocal; one is surprised at the quiet acquiescence and silence of the Church and the Synagogue.
Although homosexual conduct is forbidden in all great religions, it is abhorring to see the misconstrued and manipulative interpretations of the Holy Scriptures from the liberal brigade. The world of Prophet Lut was not destroyed for nothing. Those of the liberal inclination would do well to read holy books, which are without doubt the word of Allah, with the Quran being the updated and latest edition.
Whereas, the purpose is not to deny human rights to the LGBTQ community, it is the sanction and promotion of a wayward sexual comportment that needs to be shunned. Sponsoring such unnatural and unsanctioned misconduct among and between the LGBTQ community hits at the basis of our belief system. It is to be noted that there is no selective belief… either one believes entirely the word of God or doesn’t. You cannot pick isolated verses without context to justify such behaviour as a new moral norm. And in the Islamic context at least — with the Quran preserved as revealed — the word of Allah is clear and undisputed.
This world for those of the Islamic faith is Darul Imtihan, the examination hall, to prepare for and transcend into a Darul Jaza, the world of reward, using our granted free will in accordance with the divine guidance. Deviation in His system is punishable, with more emphasis on some sins than others. Homosexuality is one such grave iniquity. May we all stay protected!
The coronavirus is just one tiny bit of a fraction of His powers and wrath. In less than 30 days, an invisible lifeform has shaken the very foundations of human existence, throwing away all our scientific and technological prowess. The mighty and the most developed, affected the most; on their knees and into deep doubt about the future. As we tie the camel, rujoo’ or resorting to Him only, will help stem the ravages of Covid-19. But the world will not be the same again. For those defiant, the stories of humans eating human corpses in hungry Baghdad and elsewhere, in not too distant history, are stark reminders.
Original Headline: The geopolitics of coronavirus and religion
Source: The Express Tribune